April 21, 1991 |
A deadly wait for international aid has begun along Iraq's borders with Iran and Turkey. More than half of Iraq's four million Kurds are fleeing the regime of Saddam Hussein. Some have crossed the border. Most have not. Two- thirds of the Kurdish dead are children, many killed by diarrhea. About 240,000 Kurds are in or near the town of Panjwin, 15 miles from the Iranian border. Until six weeks ago, Panjwin was a ghost town, little more than rubble. That's because in 1983, Hussein ordered the Kurdish town blown up and bulldozed.
April 21, 1991
As world attention focuses on the American, British and French efforts to alleviate the suffering of Kurdish refugees fleeing toward Turkey, hundreds of thousands continue to stream into Iran. In fact Iran has shouldered the brunt of the refugee disaster, admitting close to one million Kurds so far, more than double the number in Turkey, but has received very little international aid. Iran, whose economy is still recovering from a decade of war, has already committed about $57 million of its own money to house and feed the refugees in an effort that Western diplomats in Tehran say has been remarkably charitable.
April 20, 1991 |
The White House suggested yesterday that Kurdish refugees fleeing the Iraqi military could be left without armed protection if the camps that allied troops build for them in northern Iraq are eventually turned over civilian relief workers from the United Nations. White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater said the Bush administration planned to turn over the refugee camps to the United Nations almost immediately after the facilities are erected. Fitzwater suggested that U.N. civilian personnel - rather than an armed U.N. peace-keeping force - might provide security for the Kurds, who fled Iraq after President Saddam Hussein crushed their uprising against his government.
April 18, 1991 |
The broad grin on the often-somber face of British Prime Minister John Major as he stood outside No. 10 Downing Street yesterday was as unusual as it was understandable. He had persuaded President Bush to adopt his proposal for aiding the Kurdish refugees, by sending allied troops into northern Iraq to establish "safe havens" where the refugees might be fed, sheltered and protected. At the same time, he had gone a long way toward answering the persistent criticism of him, much of it from his fellow Conservatives, that he is such a low-key and cautious leader - particularly in contrast to his predecessor, Margaret Thatcher - that he qualifies as "a ditherer" and "a wimp.
April 16, 1991 |
The Turkish government said yesterday that it would transfer thousands of Kurdish refugees from makeshift mountainside camps to proper refugee centers in lowland areas where it will be easier to care for them. The abrupt policy shift came as a result of international pressure on Turkey as well as pledges by the United States and other countries to help the Turks feed and shelter hundreds of thousands of refugees on both sides of the border with Iraq. For more than two weeks, Turkish troops had prevented most of the refugees fleeing Iraq from crossing very far into Turkey because, the government said, it lacked the resources to feed and shelter them.
April 14, 1991 |
After appearing decisive, sure-footed and determined in his leadership before and during the Persian Gulf war, President Bush seems more tentative, reactive and inconsistent in its aftermath. In the 6 1/2 weeks since the end of the war, Bush has struggled to defend his hands-off policy toward Iraqi rebels, issued contradictory signals about his willingness to curb Iraq's use of helicopter gunships and appeared ambiguous and slow in providing relief to Kurdish refugees. Administration officials insist that Bush has been as purposeful since the war as during it and dismiss much of the criticism as sniping by longtime detractors.
April 13, 1991 |
The Bush administration yesterday defended itself against charges from some members of Congress that U.S. policy has led to a desperate and deadly situation for the Kurdish refugees fleeing Iraq. Congressional critics have said administration policy has allowed the slaughter and starvation of Kurdish civilians in northern Iraq, even as he designated that area a "safe haven" for the refugees. "I think we had, at the high levels of American government, a moral lapse," Rep. Howard L. Berman (D., Calif.
April 12, 1991 |
The United States and its European allies are pressing Turkey to approve a huge land-and-air relief operation to avert mass deaths among an estimated half-million Iraqi Kurds now on freezing mountain slopes along the Turkish- Iraqi border. "We have a humanitarian crisis with the clock running out. A catastrophe is imminent unless we can get these refugees to the nearest flat land, where minimal infrastructure can be put up," Edmund Cain, the United Nations relief coordinator in Turkey, said yesterday.
April 10, 1991 |
Secretary of State James A. Baker 3d, in his 12-minute visit to Kurdish refugees on the Turkish border, said that it was up to the international community "to do something" to solve this humanitarian problem. But the plight of the Kurdish refugees fleeing from Saddam Hussein's terror is much more than a humanitarian problem. It is a test of leadership for the Bush administration and the Western allies. How they deal with it will define how the Persian Gulf war is remembered. How the administration deals with it will define America's image in the aftermath of that war. Everyone knows that Bush urged Iraqis to rise up against their leader.
April 9, 1991 |
Secretary of State James A. Baker 3d came face-to-face with one consequence of the Persian Gulf war yesterday as he briefly surveyed thousands of desperate Kurdish refugees camped out along the Iraqi-Turkish border. "Our children are suffering from hunger and starvation," pleaded Sam Timathwes, one of the few refugees who had a chance to talk with Baker, who stayed less than 10 minutes. As they spoke, the two men stood on a hilltop just inside Iraqi territory. Baker stared out at rugged mountainsides teeming with refugee men, women and children as far as the eye could see. As tens of thousands more Kurdish refugees fled towards Turkey, the leader of one Kurdish rebel group said that Iraqi helicopter gunships fired on refugee columns, killing and wounding thousands of people.